Focusing on the Individuals Journey

While the wilderness provides an excellent setting for our therapeutic program, we wouldn’t be able to achieve lasting, positive outcomes and address the unique developmental and psychological needs of each student without deep expertise in clinical theory and evidence-based practices. We work individually with each student to help them set positive goals, and move forward on their journey.

Our clinical foundation includes:


Providing the ideal environment and prompting for students and families to better understand themselves and the way in which they interact with others.

Emotional Regulation

Teaching skills for managing emotions, maintaining energy, and soothing stress without lashing out.


Developing relational intelligence, social skills and a concrete understanding that we are all members of interdependent communities.


Guiding students through transitions while they are enrolled, so they can maintain positive behavior when they return home.

Trails Truly Works

Between entering Trails Carolina and 12 months after graduation students saw symptoms of depression improve by 81%

Learn More


Trails Carolina offers a Therapeutic Wilderness Program that is based on decades of experience and scientific research that balances the benefits of wilderness therapy with the practical experience of residential base camp. Each student spends time in the wilderness and back at base camp to practice skills in a variety of settings and with different staff.

These transitions are beneficial because your child may demonstrate success within certain environments or with certain individuals, but struggle to transfer those skills to other settings. For instance, while your child may excel during their time in the wilderness they may struggle in the classroom as the structure and staff changes. These struggles can lead your child to feel insecure, grow frustrated, and return to negative behaviors. Our staff support your child during times of struggle, reminding them on the new strengths and skills they have learned to overcome.

Our supportive therapeutic wilderness programs for troubled teens and young adults allow us to teach practical skills for positive behavior, then test these newfound skills your child has gained to help create stronger behavioral patterns.

Through expeditions and clinical expertise, Trails’ provides a environment for your child to learn to effectively express their emotions and adopt healthy behaviors. Our experienced, passionate team is there to help every step of the way.

Trails’ Therapeutic Program Includes

  • Initial assessments for better understanding of your child’s mindset upon arrival
  • Weekly individual therapy with your child’s Primary Therapist to provide a personalized treatment plan
  • Weekly group therapy to help instill healthy behaviors with the help of peers
  • Development and review of your child’s personal therapeutic plan with input from the entire Trails team of experts
  • Weekly family phone sessions with the Primary Therapist to help transfer skills from Trails back home
  • Weekly phone conference seminars with a Family Therapist and other Trails families while your student is at Trails – This provides additional support so you don’t need to feel alone
  • Specialized equine assisted therapy to help students understand how others perceive their emotions, actions, and non-verbal communication
  • Mindfulness practice
  • Transition planning to prepare for continued success after Trails
Blend of Wilderness and Base Campus

Students practice transitioning to new situations, settings, and staff to improve their confidence in handling all that life throws at us, whether in the wilderness or the classroom.

Decades of Experience

Our talented team are experts in their respective disciplines and have the passion and experience to build trust with your child and help them along the path to a positive outcome.

Comprehensive Assessments for Individual Treatment Plans

Upon arrival, each student is assigned a Primary Therapist who immediately conducts a thorough clinical assessment. Assessments and progress reports will continue throughout your child’s stay, and every member of the Trails Teams—Therapeutic, Wilderness, Academic and Residential—is involved in this process to improve our understanding of your child, their progress, and any remaining challenges.

This is why it is so important to alternate between wilderness and residential settings and mix interactions with different members of the team – to improve and test coping skills and practice new behaviors in a variety of situations. Your child and the entire family will continue weekly treatment with your individual Primary Therapist and Family Therapist while the entire Trails team continues to assess progress.

This continued focus on your child’s specific behaviors and circumstances allows us to individualize treatment in order to maximize gains and long-term success.

“I feel” statements for Improving Accountability and Insight

Many troubled youth have a difficult time taking ownership of their actions. Starting to develop accountability and self-awareness is a vital part of your child confronting their past behavior and developing healthy habits for the future.

One of the first things we work on with students (and families) is to use “I feel” statements. It sounds simple, but this is an incredibly powerful tool to change the nature of communication. Leveraging simple reframes like this, and guidance from our staff, we are able to help your child understand the role they play in creating supportive relationships with their peers, family members, and authority figures.

Throughout their time at Trails, your child will move from defensive and defeated to confident and self-assured.

Science Steve is the BEST!
Science Steve is awesome! I wish all schools were like that
The therapists and programming are top-notch and staff (from expedition and field staff to personal therapist Amanda and family therapist Kaitlyn to Med Lindsey to Teacher Liz and Science Steve and Horse Ann) took care of our daughter like she was their own, and I think that takes a dedication that goes well beyond a paycheck.
Antoinette , Parent
Our son LOVED Science Steve! Him and the teachers really helped restore his comfort in the classroom.
Our daughter loved Science Steve!
Karol , Parent
“Trails was a life changing experience for our son and for me. The program instills the core values that we should all strive to live by.”
Tasha M
“I would highly recommend Trails to anyone with a struggling teen.”
Pamela G
“Trails was the hardest and the best thing we could have done for our son.”
Edward J
“I feel a lot more at peace with myself, less guilty about the mistakes I’ve made, and more accepting of the road ahead of me.”
Audrey T
“Your dedication to helping so many young kids and the profound life-changing experience Trails can give is intense but amazing work. The personnel at Trails were responsible, caring, and demonstrated a high level of integrity in a very difficult and stressful time.”
Diane R
“Our family communications have improved by leaps and bounds!”
Francis M
“Trails is an amazing program filled with kind, caring people. You will know your kids are safe.”
Bonnie K
“Your staff is incredibly caring and sensitive. The way that they connect with each student, and their ability to see the good inside is amazing to witness. They clearly love what they do.”
Shari L
“Amazing organization with employees that are highly skilled and devoted to the kids.”
Hunter K
“Nature can heal the body as well as the mind.  I feel that when I was not around nature that I had a super negative attitude towards everything and everybody.  When I got to Trails, because of nature I started accepting things as they are as well as being honest and accountable.”
Spears M
“A tremendous growth experience for our son, very professionally and compassionately done.”
Ralph W
“Trails is a wilderness program of excellence, with individuals throughout the organization who will bend over backwards to help your teen understand the importance of trust, responsibility and accountability."
Elaine B
“I am in awe of the staff here at Trails Carolina. All the staff we met were congenial, cordial, knowledgeable, thoughtful and kind.
Carolyn H
“It impressed me how totally committed each and every therapist is to helping the families. Their compassion and understanding are remarkable.”
Randy W
“Thank you for all your efforts to make a difference in my daughter’s life going forward.”
Eugene G
“The overall change in my daughter was so impressive.”
Kim B
“The therapists and guides were very well trained. I was pleasantly surprised at how compassionate the program and the field guides were. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
The Welsh Family
“Equine therapy was a powerful experience. My daughter said that it calmed her. The lovely base camp grounds with horses roaming around set a peaceful tone.”
Roxanne G
“I can honestly say that we are a closer family because of what we learned at Trails. I loved it all!”
Darla W
“We can’t thank everyone enough for the kindness, compassion and great skills each and every one of you gifted us with on this journey.”
Judity W
“If your child is in need and you feel you don’t have the skills alone to help them, Trails can! And they will!!”
Deserae A
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. You took a boy who was a bundle of rage and guided him to see there were other ways to handle the world.”
Susanna M
“Jake got so much from the program that he wants to move to North Carolina, study wilderness leadership and work on the staff at Trails.”
Staci S
“The process is about leaving as a new person who has found ways to stay away from problems.  And by leaving here we will become a better and more mature human being.”
Greer G
“Trails was the best thing I could have done, full of invaluable experiences. Thank you all! We will treasure our experience.”
Rejena B
“Thank you! We are true believers in the power of the wilderness experience and can’t say enough about Trails!”
Luanne G
“I believe that Trails is a rite of passage.  It’s stopping one stage in your life, and helps you to grow and prosper into a beautiful new grown up person.”
former student
“I would highly recommend Trails to anyone who needs their services. It was an excellent program in every way.”
Jennifer O
“I am full of admiration and gratitude for Trails and its staff.”
Stuart R
“I’ve learned I care about my family.  I also learned I should respect others and respect myself. I learned that that can change with a little bit of help.”
Casey K
“I would say that Trails saved our daughter’s life. I saw changes in her at graduation that thrilled my heart.”
Peggy W

Contact us today to learn how we can help your family